The Nitrogen Cycle


The lesson introduces students to one of the most important of the Earth Cycle’s, the Nitrogen Cycle.  Most students may understand the concept of cycles, such as the Water Cycle, Oxygen Cycle, Carbon Cycle, etc., but may not be too familiar with the Nitrogen Cycle.  The lesson may be used with lessons related to ecosystems, the environment, and others.

The Nitrogen Cycle Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about The Nitrogen Cycle
  • Hands-on homework activities
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 4-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The science lesson introduces students to the nitrogen cycle. A brief introduction about various Earth cycles, such as the water cycle, begins the lesson. Then the lesson introduces nitrogen and its importance for life on Earth. The five steps of the nitrogen cycle are then listed and explained. The lesson closes by mentioning a few ways the nitrogen cycle can be affected by humans. The lesson can be used in conjunction with other lessons about the environment, ecosystems, or other Earth cycles.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instructions:  

  1. Ask students: What are the different cycles that are important for life on Earth to exist?
  2. Allow for responses and discussion. Next ask students to share more information about the steps of the various cycles.  If no student has picked nitrogen cycle, give hints for it to be guessed.
  3. Allow for additional responses and further discussion. Introduce The Nitrogen Cycle.
  4. Distribute The Nitrogen Cycle content pages. Read and review the information with the students.  Save the final question for the lesson closing.  Use the additional resources to enhance understanding.
  5. Distribute Activity page. Read and review the instructions.  Distribute white construction or other drawing paper, and other supplies.  Remind students to use the arrows correctly, write steps clearly, and create a catchy title.  The viewer of the Nitrogen Cycle poster should easily understand the process.
  6. Once completed, each student shares their poster with another student or with the entire class.
  7. Distribute Practice page. Check and review the students’ responses.
  8. Distribute the Homework page. The next day, check and review the students’ responses.
  9. In closing, ask students: What pneumonic device can you create to help you remember the steps of the nitrogen cycle from fixation to denitrification? (Work with a partner.)  Students choose a partner or are assigned to work with someone.
  10. Once sufficient time has passed, allow students to share the pneumonic device.

Common Core State Standards:  


Class Sessions (45 minutes): At least 2 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more science resources? Check out our other Science Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade